Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is subsitutionary Atonement too individualistic?

There are some (Eg Joel Green or Greg Boyd) who argue that there's too much of a focus on the individual in Penal Subsitutionary Atonement (PSA).  Wenkel and Song argue that PSA already has a cosmic dimension because individuals are made in the image of God. They write:

"We do not wish to deny that the cosmic significance includes victory over Satan and the bondage found under his rule. Yet, the cosmic significance of the atonement is primarily about God and his wrath against sin. Anselm's famous remark about the atonement was, 'have you considered how great is the weight of sin?' (Cur Deus Homo 1.21) In this section, we raised an equally important issue: have you considered how great is the kind of the one who sinned? ... Humankind has a certain cosmic significance because of the one whose image they reflect. Likewise, to reduce the significance of the individual is to minimise the significance of the one whose image they reflect."

David Wenkel and John B. Song, 'The image of God and the Cosmos: A response to the individualist critique of penal subsitutionary Atonement,' Reformed Theological Review 71 (2012): 11. 

1 comment:

Andrew Bowles said...

This seems an odd way to approach the topic. The cosmic significance of the atonement comes because it is achieved by the Logos incarnate. Christ is both man and God and therefore human destiny is tied up with cosmic salvation. That is an easier way than talking about the 'image of God' in general terms. It also overcomes individualism because Christ is representative of humanity, the 'New Adam'. That was Anselm's point.